Molly Is Finally Rescued After Spending Two Weeks Trapped Inside the Walls of an English Deli in Greenwich Village
Molly, an eleven-month-old black cat whose plight softened the hearts of both jaded New Yorkers and cat-lovers all over the world, was rescued late last Friday evening from the walls of an English delicatessen in Greenwich Village where she had been trapped for two weeks.
Although policemen, firemen, Animal Care and Control (ACC), and Down Town Pets had all made a variety of unsuccessful attempts to rescue the feline, in the end it was an acoustics expert and a construction worker who were finally able to locate and free her. Using sophisticated sound-detecting equipment, Alan Fierstein was able to locate Molly trapped in a tube behind a first-floor wall. This discovery allowed Kevin Clifford of Queens, who is working on a new water tunnel in Lower Manhattan but had volunteered to assist in the rescue, to drill a hole into the wall and free the dusty and frightened cat at 10:13 p.m.
"Merry Christmas -- you're going home, Molly," the sandhog reportedly told her after he had pulled her out by her tail. (See New York Post, April 16, 2006, "Lucky Molly's In the Lap of Luxury.")
Despite being forced to subsist upon whatever mice and insects that she was able to catch and dripping water for a fortnight, she was in remarkably good shape after her trying ordeal (See photo below) and did not require hospitalization. Having migrated from the deserts of Africa, it is not unusual for cats to go without food and water for extended periods of time. For instance, Emily, a thirteen-month-old black and gray cat from Appleton, Wisconsin, survived more than three-weeks without sustenance last October when she became trapped inside a cargo container that was being shipped from the badger state to Nancy, France. (See Cat Defender post of December 9, 2005 entitled "Adventurous Cat Named Emily Makes Unscheduled Trip to France in Hold of Cargo Ship.")
"I saw her eyes shining in the light," Clifford told The New York Times on April 15th. "I was calling her, and she was meowing to me. She was scared." (See "The Fraidy-Cat of Hudson Street Is Yanked to Safety.")
"It feels like I just won the lottery," an overjoyed Peter Myers, owner of Myers of Keswick at 634 Hudson Street, told the New York Daily News on April 15th. (See "Ending Is Cat's Meow.") "We're glad to have her back," he added. (See the New York Post article cited supra.) Myers and Clifford are pictured at the top of the page, left to right, along with a caged Molly.
Myers and his daughter, Jennifer, celebrated Molly's safe return with champagne and English ale while the prodigal feline, a non-tippler, made do with water, bacon and sardines.
Before Messrs. Fierstein and Clifford were finally able to solve the riddle of Molly's whereabouts, rescuers had unsuccessfully tried removing bricks and drilling multiple holes in the walls but all this succeeded in doing was to frighten her and to subject her tiny lungs to dangerous levels of dust. They next lowered video cameras into the darkened crevices in an effort to make sure that she was still alive. They also tried to entice her out by playing recordings of whales and sea gulls. Traps were baited with mackerel to no avail. Cat therapists and psychics plied their crafts without success and, in an attempt to arouse Molly's maternal instincts, kittens were also pressed into service.
While all of this was going on inside the nineteenth-century, four-story brick structure, a media circus that included not only reporters and cameramen but concerned ailurophiles and their detractors was performing outside in the street. Food was dropped off for Molly and seemingly everyone and his brother had advice of one sort or another to offer.
The rescue has hindered from the outset not only because of the fact that the building is protected by the Landmarks Preservation Commission but also by Myers' initial unwillingness to foot the bill for any damage that might be done to his eatery. This was in spite of the fact that the building's unnamed owner had given permission for rescuers to drill into the walls.
As cheap, heartless, and inhumane as this sounds, it is not all that uncommon an occurrence. Specifically, Mike Pastore of ACC told the New York Post in the article cited supra that twice in the past dozen years he has been forced to kill cats with poisoned needles and then to drag out their bodies because either tenants or landlords had refused to allow him to drill into their precious walls. This attitude on the part of cat-owners, landlords, and city officials demonstrates a lack of regard for feline life.
Officials would never stand idly by and allow a human to perish under similar circumstances. Clifford got it right when he told the New York Daily News on April 16th, "If that ever happened to me, I hope they would keep working that way." (See "Molly's Already Feline (sic) Just Fine.") Besides, the concerns of both Myers and the conservationists were superfluous in this instance because not only has an anonymous donor agreed to pay for the rescue but the ACC has also established Molly's Fund.
Myers has also been criticized for waiting too long to notify officials of his cat's disappearance. Although she vanished on March 31st, he did not contact the fire department until April 2nd when he heard her meowing from inside the wall. He has attempted to justify his dereliction of duty by arguing that he thought that she had been stolen. This is, of course, specious reasoning that hardly helps his case.
His callous treatment of Molly has nonetheless engendered a spate of hate mail from concerned cat-lovers and this has prompted him to have a veterinarian surgically implant a microchip underneath her skin in order to protect her from theft. This is not only a needless invasive procedure but also a waste of time and money because it is highly unlikely that any catnapper would be imbecilic enough to allow her to be scanned by a veterinarian.
Nonetheless, the hate mail as well as her own fame may have put an end to her career as head mouser at the West Village deli that specializes in such staples of English cuisine as Scotch eggs, clotted cream, Marmite, and fresh pork pies. At last word, Molly is staying at Jennifer's West Village apartment and has not yet returned to her customary basket at the deli. She and Jennifer did, however, make an appearance Monday with Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa (See photo below).
By all accounts Molly has been a proficient mouser since Myers adopted her from an animal shelter last year in order to replace the late Fluffy Fleabag. "She is a little four-legged killer. She's a valued member of the staff," he told The Times of London on April 13th. (See "Bid to Save Molly the Mouser.")
She is in fact so good at her job that Myers willingly pays a $300 fine twice a year to health inspectors for the privilege of illegally keeping her at his twenty-year-old eatery. It is one of those Catch-22 situations that occur so often in New York. Without Molly, he would have to pay an identical amount for having mice.
Despite all the wasted time and cheapness of some of the parties involved, the rescue effort nonetheless brought out the very best in the Big Apple. It is a bigoted, greedy, and violent city to be sure but on those rare occasions when it decides to strut its stuff it does so with a certain savoir-faire that few cities can equal.
As for Molly, it is hoped that Myers and his daughter will take better care of her from here on if not out of love then out of an appreciation of the fact that because of her newfound fame she is now a valuable cat.
Photos: Dima Gavrysh of the Associated Press (Peter Myers, Kevin Clifford and Molly in cage) and WABC-TV, New York (Molly by herself and with Jennifer Myers, Rigis Philbin and Kelly Ripa).